Transgender and Nonbinary People Describe Discrimination, Harassment, and Mistreatment at Aurora Detention Facility in New Civil Rights Complaint

April 9, 2024
Last modified: 
April 9, 2024

Washington, DC– The National Immigration Project, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, and American Immigration Council today filed a civil rights complaint on behalf of a group of transgender and nonbinary individuals who are currently detained at the Aurora Contract Detention Facility and have experienced discrimination, harassment, and mistreatment while under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. 

The complaint details experiences of medical neglect and inadequate access to necessary medical and mental healthcare, dehumanizing treatment, and much more. 

Charlotte sought transfer to the Aurora facility from an ICE detention center in Georgia and was told that she would have better access to gender affirming care at Aurora. But in Aurora, she and other transgender women she is detained with are locked in their dorm for at least 23 hours a day. “I thought they’d take care of us, give us more freedom, recognize that we have suffered the most, we are the most vulnerable. We came from our countries being horribly treated and we get here and they treat us horribly,” said Charlotte

Victoria, also detained at the Aurora facility added, “People break. They sign their deportations after being here too long because they can’t take this treatment. They don’t want to keep fighting their cases here because the system is so bad. I think it is intentionally bad here. It is a way to get people to give up on themselves.”

“The traumatic experiences detailed in this complaint make clear that ICE is incapable of safely and humanely incarcerating transgender and nonbinary people,” said Ann Garcia, Staff Attorney at the National Immigration Project. “As a result, we urge DHS to put an immediate and permanent end to ICE’s practice of detaining transgender and nonbinary people. Until that happens, at a minimum, ICE must immediately implement new policies to provide safeguards to transgender and nonbinary people in their custody while also implementing regular oversight practices to guarantee adherence to these protective policies. Ultimately, however, we know the abuse and mistreatment documented in this complaint are emblematic of a detention system that is inherently inhumane and flawed beyond repair, and we will continue fighting to end this cruel and harmful system.”

“ICE created a ‘trans pod’ at the Aurora facility, which is promoted as the premier place to be detained in the country for people who are transgender and nonbinary. This complaint reveals the systemic flaws with this model, which inflicts further harm and cruelty on people who have already faced profound mistreatment during their lives due to their gender identities and expression of themselves,” said Laura Lunn, Director of Advocacy & Litigation at Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network. “The Department of Homeland Security must investigate these allegations, which we believe can lead to only one possible conclusion: a recommendation to end the detention of people who are trans and nonbinary because the agency cannot ensure the safety and wellbeing of people in its custody. Release should be the default, not the exception.” 

“Keeping trans people isolated in pods doesn’t make them safer in ICE detention, where they routinely face abuse by staff and denial of essential medical treatment. It is telling that this facility in Aurora was purportedly one of the few in the country that met standards for keeping trans people safe, and yet, as this complaint shows, people endured systemic harassment and neglect,”  said Rebekah Wolf, senior advocacy strategist at the American Immigration Council. “ICE needs to permanently end keeping trans and non-binary people in detention, because the agency clearly cannot guarantee basic standards of care.”  

The complaint builds upon the longstanding pattern of abuse, discrimination, and neglect that transgender and nonbinary people have reported while detained at the Aurora facility. The traumatic experiences detailed in this complaint are also set against the broader backdrop of more than a decade’s worth of detailed complaints filed by transgender and nonbinary persons with DHS oversight bodies and investigated by the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Read the complaint here


For more information, contact:

Elyssa Pachico at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 503 850 8407

Arianna Rosales, National Immigration Project, [email protected], (408) 398-5140

Laura Lunn, Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, [email protected], (720) 370-9100


About the American Immigration Council

The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. In January 2022, the Council and New American Economy merged to combine a broad suite of advocacy tools to better expand and protect the rights of immigrants, more fully ensure immigrants’ ability to succeed economically, and help make the communities they settle in more welcoming. Follow the latest Council news and information on and Twitter @immcouncil. 

About the National Immigration Project 

The National Immigration Project (NIPNLG) is a membership organization of attorneys, advocates, and community members who are driven by the belief that all people should be treated with dignity, live freely, and flourish. We litigate, advocate, educate, and build bridges across movements to ensure that those most impacted by the immigration and criminal systems are uplifted and supported. Learn more at Follow NIPNLG on Facebook, X, and Instagram at @NIPNLG.

About the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network

Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Colorado, that works to ensure justice for adults and children in immigration proceedings. RMIAN empowers people through education of legal rights; provides zealous no-cost immigration legal representation to uphold fundamental fairness and due process; promotes the importance of universal representation where anyone in immigration proceedings has access to counsel despite financial barriers; and advocates for a more efficient, functional, and humane immigration system, including an end to immigration detention. Learn more about RMIAN’s work at, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @rmian_org.


Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

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